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Utah Governor Vetoes Jack Thompson's Game Sales Bill

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the hit-the-road-jack dept.

Government 36

Not long ago we discussed news that the Utah Senate and House had both passed legislation worked on by Jack Thompson that would add restrictions on how game advertising interacted with the rating system. The bill itself was poorly amended, and many questioned whether it would have the effect its sponsors desired. GamePolitics asked a First Amendment rights expert for his opinion on the matter, and the National Coalition Against Censorship spoke out against the bill, urging Governor Jon Huntsman to strike it down. Fortunately, it appears he took their advice (or that of many lobbying retailers), as the bill has now been vetoed. Huntsman said, "The industries most affected by this new requirement indicated that rather than risk being held liable under this bill, they would likely choose to no longer issue age-appropriate labels on goods and services."

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Die, Die, DIE!!! (4, Funny)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27339797)

It's gratifying, and somewhat surprising, to see state officials put a stake through the bloated, foetid, rotting corpse of that ridiculous little man.

The guy's always been a noxious little puke, but when he started having a crack [penny-arcade.com] at Penny Arcade, it became clear just how deranged a nut-job he was.

Sorry, I don't really have anything to add to the discussion. I just really wanted to smile and breathe a sigh: Yessssss...

Re:Die, Die, DIE!!! (2, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27340239)

You think that's bad, try looking at the court record of his disbarment trial. They go into detail how he tried to pressure judges with constant bullying.

Re:Die, Die, DIE!!! (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27340247)

When even the Florida Bar Association has expelled him for life with no possibility of being reinstated, you know that Thompson must clearly be unhinged. Then again, you'd expect that from a guy who has been consistently been suing his own bar association, all the judges he can name and tried to get criminal charges pressed against Penny Arcade for the heinous act of (GASP!) giving money to a children's charity.

Re:Die, Die, DIE!!! (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344587)

I prefer the racketeering claim [penny-arcade.com]

good first step in utah (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 5 years ago | (#27339811)

now if only he would veto Jack Thompson too...the root of all evil...well...root of evil stupidity anyways.

hopefully, a "suddenoutbreakofcommonsense" tag gets added to the post.

Utah has a rather progressive Governor. (1, Interesting)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 5 years ago | (#27339889)

Despite being a Mormon, a particularly hard line religion that considers alcohol so awful that they have enacted laws making booze buying in that state pretty difficult, he's actually for rolling back regulations on booze hounds, so this is not particularly shocking to see Huntsman do this. Bravo, Gov. Huntsman! Let's see you bring Utah into the *20th* century, and hopefully the 21st by inertia of it all.

Re:Utah has a rather progressive Governor. (0)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#27341129)

he's actually for rolling back regulations on booze hounds

How unfortunate; it would be better to roll back regulations on casual, responsible drinkers of alcohol rather than those who abuse it.

Re:Utah has a rather progressive Governor. (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27341913)

Let's see you bring Utah into the *20th* century, and hopefully the 21st by inertia of it all.

Well wait a minute, that's quite a bit of inertia you're talking about there, passing 2 centuries in less than one? What if that continues and then Utah is in the 22nd century before we've even left the 21st, and next thing you know Mormon colony ships are heading for Alpha Centauri while the rest of us are still trying to get a decent electric car.

Re:Utah has a rather progressive Governor. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343885)

Then they'd be the Cylons and not us?

Re:Utah has a rather progressive Governor. (3, Funny)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 5 years ago | (#27346279)

Joseph Smith wins a Space Race victory!

Re:Utah has a rather progressive Governor. (0)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27347621)

Joseph Smith wins a Space Race victory!

-1 Troll? Mod never played Civilization, I presume? Well, *I* thought it was funny.

They made a few TV shows out of this (1)

weston (16146) | more than 5 years ago | (#27350179)

Mormon colony ships are heading for Alpha Centauri while the rest of us are still trying to get a decent electric car.

This is more or less the plot of the original Battlestar Galactica.

(Except they're trying to come TO earth, but they can't, because they don't have the production budget, and they have to keep re-using the clips where they shoot Cylons down.)

Re:They made a few TV shows out of this (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27350307)

(Except they're trying to come TO earth, but they can't, because they don't have the production budget, and they have to keep re-using the clips where they shoot Cylons down.)

Huh, that's funny, I was under the impression that they eventually made it to earth because they ran out of production budget. ;)

Re:Utah has a rather progressive Governor. (1)

Ifandbut (1328775) | more than 5 years ago | (#27369577)

I dont know why this was modded troll because it is true. I voted democrat in the last Utah election but seeing what the governor has done, I wish he was gona run for a third term.

Screw IE (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27339987)

Internet explorer sucks balls.
Anyone using it should have their head removed using any non-standard method.

suddenoutbreakofcommonsense? (1)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 5 years ago | (#27340137)

I don't know if it's appropriate to tag this article as such. Jack Thompson is a known nutcase and I'm sure that game lobbyists hold some sway since gaming hasn't suffered as much as other industries in this recession. The governor's decision is at least as much politics as it is personal feeling.

Re:suddenoutbreakofcommonsense? (1)

JWman (1289510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27340531)

I agree that this tag is a bad one. It implies that everyone in Utah was on board with this, but Huntsman alone stepped forward to kill it. As someone who is living in Utah at the moment, I can tell you that this got no press coverage here, except through (conservative) political commentators who agreed it was a BAD idea. I'm not sure how it got enough of a coalition to make it through the legislature, but it certainly wasn't by popular demand.

Re:suddenoutbreakofcommonsense? (1)

courtjester801 (1415457) | more than 5 years ago | (#27342115)

Well, there is this [sltrib.com] . It is getting a bit of coverage. And notice that he's not doing it because of the children, just that he doesn't want to get the state sued. We're already due for a couple law suits over abortion and gay rights, why tack on a third?

Re:suddenoutbreakofcommonsense? (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27344973)

And notice that he's not doing it because of the children, just that he doesn't want to get the state sued

I'm not sure if you mean this is a good thing or not. I think it's a good thing for him to consider the constitutionality of the laws he signs long before thinking of the children.

Re:suddenoutbreakofcommonsense? (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27341605)

My question is why the hell didn't the legislators look Jack in the eye and say "Are you high?".

This has been tried. It's pretty obvious that it could be struck down on constitutional grounds in every state as undue prior restraint of first amendment rights. This just goes to show the legislators are spineless lackeys for whatever the lobbyists are pushing in front of them.

Sounds kind of like another group of senators and representatives I know of......

I hope we'll see more (3, Insightful)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 5 years ago | (#27340231)

GamePolitics asked a First Amendment rights expert for his opinion on the matter, and the National Coalition Against Censorship spoke out against the bill, urging Governor Jon Huntsman to strike it down. Fortunately, it appears he took their advice (or that of many lobbying retailers), as the bill has now been vetoed. Huntsman said, "The industries most affected by this new requirement indicated that rather than risk being held liable under this bill, they would likely choose to no longer issue age appropriate labels on goods and services."

(emphasis mine)

I'm optimistic that we'll see a lot more stories in the coming year like this one, of governors vetoing similar game-sale restrictions - or of state legislatures not passing these bills at all.

But it's not just because of First Amendment issues. Apparently, that hasn't been a problem for the legislatures passing the bills in the first place. I think the downturn in the economy will wind up helping the game industry here.

This governor clearly got the message: "the economy is in recession, and this bill would make it less likely that your state would have sales in a certain industry." And he wisely decided to veto the bill, so that game retailers in his state (WalMart, Target, EB/GameStop, ..) would continue to sell games. No doubt someone also showed him the sales numbers for the top games [gamespot.com] and how many of them would be affected by this bill (rated M). And so, had a bill like this already been on the books, those sales would not have happened in his state. I can't see any governor wanting to sign a bill that prevents money entering his state's economy, not at a time like this.

Money drives a lot of things, and the economy clearly drives decisions at the government level.

Re:I hope we'll see more (3, Informative)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 5 years ago | (#27340501)

My understanding of that last line is that game companies would simply stop rating games, not that they would stop selling them. The loophole in the bill is that the game companies cannot be held liable for unrated games.

Re:I hope we'll see more (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 5 years ago | (#27341073)

The justification for the veto was 2 fold: first, fear of first amendment challenges in courts, and secondly, Utah is a "family friendly" state, where many places advertise how family friendly they are. With legislation like this, it makes it so any retailer who sells movies/games could no longer advertise they are family friendly, due to fear of sting operations that might end up taking them to court. All around, a stupid, stupid law.

"Into action" is his cry! (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#27348463)

GamePolitics asked a First Amendment rights expert for his opinion on the matter, and the National Coalition Against Censorship spoke out against the bill, urging Governor Jon Huntsman to strike it down. Fortunately, it appears he took their advice (or that of many lobbying retailers), as the bill has now been vetoed.

It wasn't all that. All they had to do was just sound the Horn of Urgency.

Sounds like Jack forgot about something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27340867)

It sounds like Jack and the state lawmakers forgot that the ratings on games are not required by law and done voluntarily. Ooooops.

Interesting (1)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 5 years ago | (#27341529)

Ain't it great when lobbyists work in our favor?

Re:Interesting (1)

Sunrun (553558) | more than 5 years ago | (#27347509)

...and don't it suck when they work against us?

Take a good look at WHY it was vetoed (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27341713)

It's nice to see something happen in "our" favor once in a while, but realize that this isn't. Yes, the outcome seems to be what people want: Less invasion of privacy, more personal responsibility and The Man (tm) generally getting off our back for a change. But this isn't why this bill was shot down. It wasn't even that the governor realized that he should probably not allow a bill sponsored by a nutcase to pass into law.

It was shot down because the governor feared the studios would stop labeling their games altogether if they could be held liable for what label they slap on the box. This wasn't a victory for free speech or at least a step in the right direction. What would a studio do to cover its back? Label everything M. Even "Barnie's 'I love you' singalong" because you might see someone hug and that could be seen as something sexual (eeek!) by another nutjob.

We're still in Utah, remember that!

Bottom line would have been that the whole self-imposed rating system would go out the window and parents couldn't tell a Teletubbies preschooler educational game from a blood dripping slaughterfest. And you can imagine what he'd get to hear then, right? Right?

This is no victory. Yes, we like the outcome, but that will only be temporary until Nutsy finds the time to reword it. And that he has far too much spare time should be known by now.

Re:Take a good look at WHY it was vetoed (1)

ScytheBlade1 (772156) | more than 5 years ago | (#27342379)

>It was shot down because the governor feared the studios would stop labeling their games altogether if they could be held liable for what label they slap on the box.

Erm, because that is EXACTLY what could have happened, and would have been a huge step BACK. It was worded such that a retailer who didn't advertise any ratings wouldn't be liable.

>This wasn't a victory for free speech or at least a step in the right direction.

Your free speech bit confuses me (expecting replies to that) but it definitely wasn't a step in the /wrong/ direction.

>What would a studio do to cover its back? Label everything M. Even "Barnie's 'I love you' singalong" because you might see someone hug and that could be seen as something sexual (eeek!) by another nutjob.
>
>We're still in Utah, remember that!
>
>Bottom line would have been that the whole self-imposed rating system would go out the window and parents couldn't tell a Teletubbies preschooler educational game from a blood dripping slaughterfest. And you can imagine what he'd get to hear then, right? Right?

Your paranoia is making the state of Utah look normal. And yes, I live there. It was a bad bill. Future incarnations will likely not be any better. How exactly you can extrapolate all of the above from a yes/yes from the senate/legislature and then a no by the governor is so far beyond me I'm not even sure where to begin.

This definitely wouldn't have been the first time that bad legislature had been signed into law, and I sincerely doubt that Utah is the only state to have done so. Yes, our legislature has no clue in their heads. Chances are, neither does yours.

>This is no victory. Yes, we like the outcome, but that will only be temporary until Nutsy finds the time to reword it. And that he has far too much spare time should be known by now.

Your usage of "Nutsy" made me grin a little there.

In any case, this is why I will be writing letters to my relevant local representation should anything like this ever re-appear. I evidently missed the knowledge boat this round, but round 2, we'll see...

Re:Take a good look at WHY it was vetoed (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 5 years ago | (#27347059)

Fortunatly, a stronger worded bill would easily fall to First Amendment challenges. Ask Illinois and Louisiana how those turned out...

Re:Take a good look at WHY it was vetoed (2, Insightful)

BaronHethorSamedi (970820) | more than 5 years ago | (#27348427)

This is no victory. Yes, we like the outcome, but that will only be temporary until Nutsy finds the time to reword it. And that he has far too much spare time should be known by now.

With respect, I disagree.

(Full disclosure--Utah resident here.)

I think this is a victory, in that it shows consciousness of what game ratings are designed to do. They are supposed to give sane parents an indication of game content before making a purchase. So far so good--the gaming industry has subjected itself to an independent ratings board. No, a studio can't label anything "M" or any other rating. They can decide not to go through the ESRB, which is retail suicide. That seems to be what everyone was threatening to do: if we're going to get slapped for the ratings, we won't rate. The governor seems to see that voluntary content ratings are a good thing for conscientious parents, and I think he's right.

Moreover, the governor also seems to have noted (and this is a huge victory) that every other such piece of legislation has been struck down on constitutional grounds. More details here [sltrib.com] . Pertinent remark from Huntsman:

"While protecting children from inappropriate materials is a laudable goal, the language of this bill is so broad that it likely will be struck down by the courts as unconstitutional," Huntsman wrote to legislative leaders notifying them of his decision.

Possibly the bill could be reworded for resubmission (and it remains to be seen if the wacky Utah legislature will challenge the veto), but I think this suggests that this governor at least understands that there are constitutional concerns that trump think-of-the-children hysteria. I applaud the governor's action here, and his reasoning.

Re:Take a good look at WHY it was vetoed (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 5 years ago | (#27349219)

It wasn't even that the governor realized that he should probably not allow a bill sponsored by a nutcase to pass into law.

Apparently you can read minds. Does your power work on women? If so, I think we can market that..

If I'm going to veto a bill because I think the guy who wrote it is a nut job, I'm not going to come out and say that. Its not tactful. He could have decided to veto it because his wife made him waffles, but again we're not going to hear that.

Labeling is Speech, this sure looks like victory.. (1)

weston (16146) | more than 5 years ago | (#27350143)

It was shot down because the governor feared the studios would stop labeling their games altogether if they could be held liable for what label they slap on the box. This wasn't a victory for free speech or at least a step in the right direction.

Um... what exactly would victory have looked like? Other than Jack Thompson's public shaming, disbarment, or exile...

Labeling is speech. In some cases, it's compelled speech, in other cases it's more or less cooperative, but it's a solution that's pretty coherent with important principles behind the idea of free speech, such as information's valuae to a free to society and faith in a marketplace of ideas. Huntsman realized that turning the dial up on the compulsions associated with the ratings would (a) probably NOT be compatible with the legal framework of the country AND (b) would chill labeling speech.

Now, if you view labeling as hostile speech and onerous, that's another argument altogether, but it's more or less orthogonal to ideas of freedom of speech or artistic expression.

Not too surprising (2, Insightful)

ekimd (968058) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343029)

given that Gov. Huntsman seems to be pretty level-headed.

Him Again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27343211)

Wasn't he disbarred and ordered to STFU?
Or did that only apply to Florida?

Re:Him Again? (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27343941)

He was disbarred, which means he has been told to STFU in courtrooms. He can still shoot his mouth of anywhere else. First Amendment, ya know...

But aside from that, what do you call an ex-lawyer? A lobbyist.

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